Tuesday: on the policing front line
Here's something that'll surprise you. Were I not a journalist I'd like to be a policeman. It's a recent conversion, perhaps associated with middle age, but I believe that, by and large, the police are in the front line, keeping us safe from all sorts of nutters and helping us if we ever need them.
As a deeply ethical person – not as widespread a phenomenon among the general populace as you'd think – I'd be ideally suited to the job.
I even looked into it a few years ago (in Scotland) but, even then, was deemed too old, and I wouldn't be a volunteer bobby as the quid pro quo of my ethical approach is that I'd like a decent wad of money in return.
Financial considerations aside, I wasn't surprised to read that 7,500 people had applied for 100 constable posts in the PSNI.
Of course, there's a different dimension in Northern Ireland. Ancient enmities run deep and suspicions remain re the old RUC. In TV footage of the Troubles, I remember especially an iconic scene involving a civil rights march – more than 40 years ago.
I remember it mainly because of the surprisingly elderly constable who ventured forth swinging his club, then rushed back in panic, his eyes bulging with fear and confusion as he couldn't cope with the adrenaline rush. He learned that day that he was weak and, on the plus side, not very good at violence.
In England, I hated the police when they attacked the miners, and I'm dubious about their role in Europe during the Second World War when, if you needed anyone rounded up for the camps, you asked a policeman. Not good. And not examined enough either.
But that's a million miles from today's rozzers in Britainshire. True, not all change is good. They seem knee-deep in paperwork and, last time I tried alerting them to a heinous crime (in Scotia Minor), I was struck by their political correctness, concern for the perpetrators' rights, and jargon that made them sound like Marxist students from the 1970s.
But catching and putting away horrible baddies (racist bullies in Northern Ireland included) must be a job worth having. Keeping the community safe must count for something over and above your pay packet.
All in all, apart from dealing with rioters, bombers and so forth, it must count as a good job to have.
Reports suggest the recent swarms of bees in Bangor may have escaped domestication.
They're running about wild, buzzing and everything.
Mankind has a complicated relationship to the bee. Individually, they're fine, but in large groups they lose the plot. Rather like football fans.
One swarm touched down near a church, forcing the congregation to take refuge inside, wondering which sin had provoked this plague.
Another mob landed near a wedding, presumably because the bride was a honey.
Shockingly, scout bees perform a dance when they return to HQ. The buzzing and stinging I can tolerate. But dancing is taking things too far.
According to Godwin's law, anyone who mentions the Nazis in a political argument loses. Thus, Prince Charles of this parish is a loser.
Poor berk. He made a throwaway, private-ish remark comparing Bertie Putin – is it Bertie? – to yon Adolf Hitler, setting in motion an international hoo-ha. The democratically-elected Russian dictator has done his nut, saying such remarks "do not befit" a future monarch, which is probably correct. And his media have pointed out all the links some of the Germanic British royal family had with the Nazis.
They even showed Prince Harry not amusingly dressed up as a Nazi for Halloween. Well, what can you say? The boy's thick.
I'm worried about his old man, though. Maybe he's starting to get fed up waiting to be Leader of England, and this is just the start of a don't-care-any-more attitude.
Brilliant. Bring it on.
I've never seen The Hunger Games, since, as a journalist, I'm far too busy to keep up with culture or current affairs generally.
But I find reports about one of the films disturbing. Is it true that, in one scene, a boy is mauled by a pack of mutated mutts before being shot in the head with an arrow?
And that a girl of 12 is stabbed with a spear, while a teenage lass is beaned with a rock?
All this in the name of entertainment. We've hardly advanced a day beyond the Roman Colosseum, right enough. It's just filmed now.
When you get to a certain age, you think about decrepitude. Long way to go yet, if counted in minutes, but I know people younger than me who worry about it.
Where will we end up? If a home or hospice, we nurture soft-focus dreams of flowers and serenity.
But reading actor Sir Patrick Stewart's account of a terminally ill friend's suicide shattered that.
The law, as it stands, forced his friend to die alone – after persuading her partner to take the dog for a walk – instead of surrounded by loved ones and pets.
But a smaller detail also irritated me. It was that a hospice had been so noisy she couldn't get any rest.
You'd think a hospice, of all places, would be quiet. But, similarly, when I last visited a home, somebody had a radio blaring for their own selfish entertainment.
Honestly, is there never any peace and quiet?
One of the many major disappointments of the never-quite-arriving-yet new technological age was virtual reality.
But stand by your helmets, as the Oculus Rift is set to change all that, offering the prospect of new horizons right inside your napper.
Hmm. I'll believe Oculus when I see it.